April 4: Greg Chappell and Rahul Dravid didn’t have a Plan B during the World Cup.
That seems the flavour of this season as the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is without a Plan B on the coach issue.
Team India’s shock exit from the World Cup almost sealed Chappell’s fate. A leaked SMS — ironically, the recipient-journalist who went public had the Australian’s well-being in mind — queered the pitch even more.
That the players appeared cut up with the coach, who came on board 23 months ago, didn’t help either.
Too much emphasis on the so-called process, little to show by way of results.
Yet, the Sharad Pawar-headed BCCI refused to look at options beyond Chappell. Apparently, because at least one very influential office-bearer was lobbying for him.
This evening, however, Chappell telephoned Pawar to say he wasn’t available for an extension owing to “family and personal reasons”.
An email followed.
Among other things, Chappell expressed gratitude to the players “with whom I have worked in this time, for the challenges that they presented me with…”
He also thanked the janata. “The people of India deserve a special mention as they are the ones whose attention, enthusiasm and love and support drive the game, and business, of cricket in this country and around the world.
“I thank them all, especially those who have written to me and the thousands who have gone out of their way to come up to me with well wishes…”
Technically, Chappell’s contract was till April 29 (reserve day for the World Cup final), but effectively till the end of India’s campaign in the showpiece event.
It’s not clear why Chappell didn’t wait till Friday, when he’s to submit his World Cup report to Pawar.
“These things are difficult to explain,” BCCI chief administrative officer Ratnakar Shetty said, adding that Chappell would keep his appointment with Pawar and the other office-bearers.
With Team India’s next engagement, in Bangladesh, just over a month away, the BCCI may not have enough time to recruit somebody from overseas.
In that case, a desi coach will have to stand in till, perhaps, the Tom Moodys and Dav Whatmores are sounded.
“Look, we can’t write a prescription without knowing the disease. We need to know what caused the World Cup debacle. Is the coach to be blamed or the players alone must take the rap'” former BCCI president Inderjit Singh Bindra told The Telegraph.
He added: “We need to be clear about the kind of coach we want… somebody tough or one who is easy-going. The stakeholders have to decide collectively.”
Before meeting seven former India captains, the office-bearers are going to interact with Chappell, Dravid and manager Sanjay Jagdale.
It’s possible that vice-captain Sachin Tendulkar will be added to the list.
Meanwhile, there’s speculation that Dravid, whose appointment was also till the World Cup, would make himself unavailable for the captaincy.
Till the other day it seemed the Pakistan Cricket Board had all the decision-making to do.
That’s not so.